Beef Rice Noodle Soup

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Bun bo Hue
Bun bo Hue

Have you noticed that even people who’d be hard-pressed to find Vietnam on a map can now make a knowing, correctly pronounced reference to pho? That is, of course, a good development, reflecting a growing awareness and appreciation of Vietnamese cuisine.

Bun bo Hue
Bun bo Hue

Bun bo Hue is center of Hue cuisine

It’s time for everyone to learn about another soup, the equally delicious but very different Bun Bo Hue (called simply Bun Bo locally), which features round rice noodles, as opposed to pho’s flat ones, mixed into a stock made from beef and/or pork bones, flavored with lemongrass, annatto seeds, ginger, fermented shrimp paste, sugar and chiles. Cubes of congealed pig blood, called huyet, float alongside slices of beef or pork shank and/or knuckles — with mung bean sprouts, lime wedges, green and white onions, sliced banana blossoms, chile paste and fistfuls of rau ram (Vietnamese coriander), mint and sawtooth herb are offered alongside.

Bun bo Hue
Bun bo Hue

Where to eat bun bo Hue?

Like many of the dishes in this list, Bun Bo Hue is ubiquitous in and around city, where many, many homes double as shops and restaurants: business in the front, family in the back. That being said, there’s a very satisfying and hearty version, augmented with crab balls, served at the food stalls in the center of Dong Ba Market, a very good one at the comfortable (read: full-sized chairs and tables) Quan So I (19 Ly Thuong Kiet), and I happened across a woman selling an excellent variation that included noodles and penne pasta, oddly enough, on the sidewalk outside a storefront on Tran Thuc Nhan street between Phan Boi Chau and Nguyen Hue streets.